They are parents to a daughter too!

Anonymous

Bangalore

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Source

My sister had apparently known it for long, by reading through my diaries. She never told me anything though. Perhaps she was trying to find a right opportunity to speak about it. Re-criminalization just helped her out. On the 13th of December 2013 when 377 was reinstated it was a big headline on the newspaper. She brought the paper to me and asked, hey brother what do you think about this? I said, what would I think, it’s a news that’s all. Then she said, you know what, I already know, so you can just say what you think. I was kind of shocked and surprised and rather flabbergasted thinking what the hell she is talking about and how in hell it’s possible that she would know anything! Coz I had never dated anyone openly before. Then she told she went through my diaries. How dare she! I took a few days to digest the anger that she went through my diaries without my knowledge. Then I kind of understood the maturity she had. Coz the reading incident apparently had happened almost 2-3 years ago, she didn’t tell my parents ANYTHING about it ever. Rather she was trying to counsel me in a funny manner, saying you know perhaps it’s a passing phase, perhaps you haven’t met the right girl yet and so on… I heard her out, calmly, realized that she is just trying to empathize with me and nothing else. Then I opened up to her and gradually told her about all my romantic trials with strangers, told her about the failed adventures too. 🙂

I told her, now that you know, perhaps it’s time you should tell mom and dad as well because they have already started looking out for my wedding. I am elder, so they wanted me to get married first. She said it’s not her job to tell them, it’s me who had to do it.

I took another year almost to gather courage and find the right opportunity to speak with my parents about this. It was my cousin sister’s wedding where all went, a lot of distant relatives came too, and a LOT of proposals came for me. I told my parents not to make any promises to anyone because I simply cannot marry a girl. I took reference of my own sister, I said the would-be bride also is someone’s sister or daughter. I do not want to spoil the life of an innocent girl just to do a trial with my own life. They understood, coz they are parents to a daughter too. Later I showed them videos like Satyamev Jayate episode, and a few other educative videos etc. My mom digested it in her own imaginative way. Dad kept quiet, didn’t say anything much about it.

 A few months later, one lazy Sunday afternoon, we all had lunch and watching TV, mother asks me casually, ‘So, all these religious babas who never marry could they be gay too?’

I had no answer to that.

I am not leaving you, but just wished you had a better life

Rajib Das,

Hyderabad

Finally did it!

There is nothing in this world that is impossible. Just a little courage and push from within to do the things just when you want them can get you where you want to be. So, this is how the conversation started while we were at the dinner table with half of the food left to be eaten in our plates:

Me: Mom, I have something to tell you…

Mom: কি বিষয় (with curiosity, what is it)?

Me: Mom, I do not want you to talk about me getting married to a girl to anyone.

Mom: কেন (with a weird look, Why)?

Me: mom, I am not attracted to girls and I like boys, আমি সমকামি…(I am Gay). (There it was, I said it as soon as we started talking so that I could answer her questions which obviously would follow after this blast.)

Mom: আমি জানতাম (I Knew), My heart signaled this a few weeks ago, and I was expecting something of this sort to come from you! So this is the way you want to destroy your life?

Me: Getting married to a girl will destroy not only my life, but the girl’s life as well. If you want to get me married forcefully, then that will end up nowhere but a depressed life and divorce.

Mom: If that is the case, then you don’t have to get married ever. If you cannot get married to a “নারী” (nari[women]) then you cannot marry a “পুরুষ” (purush [Man])- period. That’s it!! একা থাক (Live alone).

Me: But I don’t want to live without a marriage. I like boys and want to get married to a guy! (At this point I quoted a previous conversation where she said “You need to marry and have children, so that there is someone to look after you when you are old.”)

Mom: অসম্ভব (Impossible)! It cannot happen, how will two guys look after each other when both are old? How about our বংশ (family generation) – how will it grow with two guys?

Me: Just like how a man and woman looks after each other AND we can always adopt! 🙂

Mom: (with anger) No, this will simply not happen. You have to marry a girl; else, no marriage for you!!

Me: Not possible! If I fall in love with a boy, I would want to live and raise a family with him in the long run.

Mom: (emotionally) আমার সমস্ত জীবন একা (I lived my entire life almost alone ever since I was born), your father died at an early age, you were the only hope and now you are also doing these things… আমার সুখ নেই (I have no happiness).

Me: I am there for you and I need you to be there for me. You are my strength, and if you reject me, then I have nowhere to go…
Mom: I am not leaving you, but just wished you had a better life. So, who is this guy who calls you all the time?
Me: He is my friend and he likes talking to me 🙂

Mom: নাম কি (What’s his name)? What does he do? Where does he live? Did he ask you to speak to me about all this?

Me: His name is *********, and he is ****** by profession. He already has a boyfriend and he did not ask me to talk to you about this. I have been trying to talk to you about this for the last few weeks, but could not bring myself to have this conversation, as I was afraid…

Mom: Afraid of what? Why didn’t you tell me when I was trying to get you married last year? Why this sudden change now?

Me: I did not change. I was just scared to tell you as I was afraid I would lose you 😦

Mom: (with pride) আমি নারী, কিন্তু দুর্বল না | (I am woman, but not weak). I did everything on my own and raised you after your Dad. Why would you lose me?

Me: I know your anger and thought you would kill or disown me and harm or kill yourself after you get to know about it.

Mom: কখনত্ত নহে (Never), why would I kill the one I gave birth to and why on earth would I kill myself? I will die naturally, প্রভু ইচ্ছা (when God wills).

Me: I love you Mom. Thank you so much for accepting me for who I am!

Mom: Who said I accepted you??? I would still want you to get married to a girl.

Me: Again the same thing, mom? I cannot. There have been many instances of people getting married due to the pressure from their parents and society and these marriages ended nowhere but separation, depression, court cases and an unhappy life.

Mom: Ok, সুখী থাক জীবত্কাল (I wish for a happy life for you). Do whatever you want to…

And then I went on to explain many things to her about being queer. I also explained to her the meaning of ‘Wajood’ (name of the new LGBT group in Hyderabad, translates as ‘Identity’).

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Pic: Rajib & his mom

Now she is sleeping right beside me as she has been for the last few months and is speaking normally. I hope she will come around in the long run and accept me for who I am.

Dada & I

Aaditya Joshi

Mumbai

(Dada: Elder brother, in Marathi)

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1999 | Dombivli

I came home from school. The two of us were watching TV. He asked me to pass the remote. I said, “No, I won’t give you! I want to watch this TV serial!” It was a sappy family drama. Irritated, Dada said, “Yuck! You are such a girl! Boys in our society were saying exactly that to me yesterday!”

2002 | Dombivli

“What is this?”, he said, pointing at an email. I was dumbstruck.

“He… he is a school friend.”, I fumbled.

“Do you think I am a fool? Do I look like I don’t understand?”, Dada growled at me.

I went pale.

I read that email from the corner of my eye. The first sentence of the email was, “Dear Sajesh, I would like to meet you.”

2003 | Dombivli

I was talking on the phone in a low voice when Dada entered our room. I disconnected the call abruptly.

“Who was it?”

“Sriharsha!” Sriharsha was the first name I remembered. He was my only friend from school anyway.

“Then why did you hang up? Show me your phone!”

“No, I won’t! Why should I?”, I shot back.

“Then, don’t you dare lie to me!”, Dada’s eyes were red with anger.

2007 | Dombivli

“Why did you share our pictures on yahoo chat?”, Dada asked.

I had become friends with a nice guy on the internet. He was gay. Like me.

We had shown each other pictures of our families. I hadn’t even thought that I was doing anything wrong. Why was Dada scolding me then?

2007-2011

Dada and I had almost stopped talking to each other. We wouldn’t say a word even if we were in the same room. I was meeting gay men via the internet. I was on my way to accept my sexual orientation. I had started to come out to friends at college, mostly girls.

2011 | Dombivli

I was living in Powai then. Dada and Neha were getting engaged that day. I stood behind them with the rest of the family on the stage. They exchanged rings and the hall burst into an applause. I had a tear in my eye. “I’d probably never experience this”, I thought to myself and I felt shattered. I left the engagement ceremony mid-way, took an auto and came to Powai. Aai (Mom) kept wondering what had happened – until 2012.

2012 January | Pune

I was working in Pune then, and Dada-Neha lived in the next building as me. I would get friends (who were gay) home for dinner and hangouts. One day, I was entering the building with a friend – who is very fabulous. Dada saw us. I was slightly taken aback. Dada walked up to the two of us and greeted me. “He’s my friend, Manoj”, I introduced Manoj to him. “Hey, hi”, Dada said, shook hands with Manoj, and walked away. Neha saw us from her balcony in the next building, and waved at me. Manoj was unsure if he should wave as well.

2012 May | Pune

“Aai, Baba …me gay aahe” (Mom, Dad…..I am gay), my voice broke as I said the three golden words I was dying to say to my parents.

They were visiting me in Pune for about a week – and I had made up my mind to come out to them this time.

The hall of my small apartment fell silent.

“Aai, say something please”,  I said. Aai sat on a chair, her hand covering her face. Just the way she was sitting when my uncle had died a couple of years ago.

“Baba, at least you say something please”, I pleaded to my father sitting next to her.

Baba was visibly confused. “All this, is new to us. I knew there are some people like this, but I never thought we would have someone like that in our own family. Had you told us earlier, we could have done something”, Baba’s voice tapered. “What do you think”, he asked Dada who was sitting at the dining table, with Neha.

“Baba, I think we should support him. This is natural, and definitely not anybody’s fault”, Dada said firmly. Neha looked at me with a serene smile on her face. She silently messaged me on whatsapp, “Don’t break down seeing your brother say nice things about you!”

2012 June | Pune

Pune has a LGBTQ support group called ‘Prayatna’. They had organized a family meet where they were interviewing parents and family members of LGBTQ people in a hall in Pune. Two groups were interviewed. The third group was Neha, Dada and me.

We took our seats on the stage and the interview started.

Dada said, “Around 2002, I saw some emails in Aditya’s email account. And then, some Arjun Rampal pictures in his folder. My curiosity grew with tie. I searched the internet history of the computer we shared, and found some gay websites. I was shocked. I did not understand much. That was when I talked to Neha, who was my girlfriend then. She wasn’t very aware of all this either. As time passed, the references grew, and Neha and I grew up as well. We started realizing that it was okay to be gay. Neha and I created a profile on this website called guys4men, and chatted with Aditya once to understand what he was doing on these websites (The audience gasped, at the revelation. I almost shat my pants.). But then, we realized that he knew what he was up to. We remotely saw him become more confident of himself, and then deleted the profile. We kept waiting that Aditya would come out to us one day.”

“When we were kids, I scolded you, teased you, made fun of you. I am sorry” I could see Dada struggling to hold the mic, when he said this last thing. Neha had a serene smile on her face, like the day when I came out to my parents in their presence.

That night, Neha, Dada and I went to ‘Purepur Kolhapur’, an amazing Maharashtrian thali restaurant in Pune.

I knew it since I was 14

Anonymous

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A week had passed since I moved back to India after living in USA for about two years.

I am 30 and single so like all Indian parents mine too were looking for a suitable bride for me.

Unlike every other person who feels excited and elevated whenever their families discuss a prospect with them, it gave me cold feet. I never even looked at the pictures that my parents showed to me, I just told them “You better know”. This has been going on from 3 years and I used my stay in USA as an escape from all this.

My trip to USA made me comfortable about my sexuality. Being gay isn’t a taboo there, people discuss about it openly. Of course there is a prejudice in USA too but the best part is law protects homosexuals unlike India’s Draconian 377.

It was a Saturday 10 April 2016, my parents had arranged a meeting with a girl’s family. My mother was cleaning the house from morning. She had changed the bed sheets, sofa covers, dusted the entire house, a regular drill that we did whenever she invited someone over house to meet me. There was a storm in my mind, I was fighting with myself about telling them the truth but I wasn’t able to gather the courage to do so. It was 04:00 in the evening and we were expecting them at 05;00. I was sitting on my couch and was so depressed about it. My face was all pale and my mother asked me “Is everything alright?”.

I said “No”.

She asked me “What is bothering you?”

My parents were sitting in front of me and I looked at their faces, the dream every parent has about getting their children married and seeing them start their family, I was about to shatter it. But  decided that it is high time that I do it and it’s the right thing to do.

I told my mother, “Have you heard of a man marrying a man?”. She said “Yes, they are crazy people and I don’t know how do they do it.” I said ,”Mummy, I am one of those”. Both my parents were taken aback. There was a dead silence in the room. My father shouted at me, “Are you an idiot? Are you impotent? If you are having problem in having sex let’s take you to a doctor and get you treated. Those homos (fags) ruin their lives. They cannot be with one person and they die alone and in misery. I cannot let that happen to you”. My mother asked me “Did you marry someone in USA?”, I laughed and said “No”. My mother asked me “How do I know that I am gay?”. I told her “We all know that. I knew it since I was 14”. She asked me “Why didn’t you tell us this. We would have helped”. I said “Mummy, it isn’t easy to accept the fact that you are different from others, it is a journey that takes its own course”.

My father was screaming in the background “You are just confused and since you have been a virgin all this time you started having sex with men. It is just a phase, get married and have your family and forget about this part”.

He told me about his friend who told him that he was gay but then he got married because of family pressure and everything is alright, he has kids. I should get married too.

I told him I can show him so many married gay men desperate to have sex with a guy. They are frustrated in their lives and they aren’t happy with their wives as they always are on Grindr or PR looking for next guy. I told them, I can’t live like this and cheat on my wife or partner. But all in vain.

But he wasn’t ready to listen, my mother was worried and pale. My father was breathing heavy and I had to calm him down, I told him to relax and talk about it.

I tried to understand their concern, I explained to them that I am financially doing good, I don’t have any addiction or any bad habit so why do they think that just by not marrying a girl how would I ruin my life. But all my efforts were useless, I could see fear, disgust and anger on their faces.

My father still thinks that I am impotent and that’s the reason I like men, my mother she is worried rather than being judgmental.

They are still trying to get me married to a girl.

Go within to come out

Jo, Mumbai

I always wondered all through my school and college that why was I so different. When boys laughed and spoke about girls, I was never interested. What was so interesting in it? And why did I never find it interesting?

It was when I got unusually attached to boys and their thoughts kept running in my mind. I realized, my inclinations were unique. But the acceptance did not come so easily. I had hundred questions about myself. There were times when I use to force myself to think about some girl, thinking maybe this is just a PHASE and I will come out of it. Read many articles online just to be sure if I am born correctly and nothing is wrong with me.

After months or may be years of self-doubt and questioning, I finally came to terms with myself. I wouldn’t say I had anyone that time to look upon to or talk to. It was just my own inner conversations happening. I believe self-acceptance is one major milestone to achieve. Because this gives you immense strength and peace within you.

I think coming out is more of a happening than doing. And finally it happened to me. First I came out to my brother. Having a twin is always different. Its different bond. when he use to freely discuss about his love life with his girlfriend. I was always quiet. Never having the courage to express what I felt for the person I loved. So there was a time when we both were dating (he was dating a girl and I was dating a guy). I knew what we felt and how we expressed were almost the same. So, he would understand my feelings. Eventually I came out to him in a coffee shop. The release of the humongous burden from inside me came out in form of tears. Ad he said, “I always knew it, I was waiting for you to tell me. Nothing changes for me”.

All through my experiences and people I met, I realised the issues I had were more emotional and mental. And all this was going within me. More storms were within me than outside me. I was sure, the solution also had to come out from the same place – WITHIN myself. Anything I tried externally would just make me feel good temporarily. Meditation helped me a lot. It gave me immense faith and self-trust. Nothing shook me easily. I was slowly emotionally and mentally strong. Fear of what people will think, their reactions, acceptance or non-acceptance, nothing really mattered or affected.

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After about 3 years of coming out to my brother – recently, I was out to my parents. When relatives in every wedding event keep saying, “ab tumhaaara number bhi lagao toh hum aayenge” (means get married, you are too old!!)I thought its high time I tell them before it’s too late.

It was a Sunday and I decided that I will tell them in the morning itself so that I have the whole day to answer or ease the situation if something went overboard. But with heartbeats running fast and the fear gripping within, it became 7.00 p.m.
I just spoke to one of my friends and he told me something good. He said, “Coming out is like pulling an old band-aid from your wound. You know it will pull your hair and hurt; but still you have to do it. You do it today or after 5 years, it will still feel the same that you are feeling this moment. So, JUST DO IT”. And my brother from the other room sends me a watsapp message – [when r you going to tell them just tell them]. Finally at 8.30p.m. I told them I want to tell you something. And I handed over a letter. There was silence for 15 minutes. So silent, that I thought I had stopped hearing anything around me. No one said anything. They just said, we will talk about it later.

We have never spoken after that day about this. Everything is as normal as it was. I am seeing that they show me more love in subtle ways. But they have never spoken about this.

Like it has been a journey for me, it is a journey for them too.

For me, the next morning was a new morning. I had never felt the closest to myself I had never seen myself so clearly within me. The sense of peace and lightness I felt was so empowering. 

Coming out is going to be difficult, but its WORTH it.

Life felt like a huge mound on me

Syed Ayaan

Bangalore

Acceptance that supersedes any discrimination, may be it gender and sexuality, or for that matter anything that creates barriers. It used to always haunt me why am I not being accepted, what was that something which was so wrong in me? I love, I eat, I pray, I do my chores, I am responsible, and then what is it that was missing?  The only answer that I always used to get is “NOTHING” or probably my love and affection towards my own gender.  “Yes, I am Syed Ayaan and I am Gay”.

It all started when I was in school. I never doubted my sexuality , but I always doubted whether this is something which I should be proud and vocal about, or is this that secret of me which should be kept always under wraps. And as we all know, there are ample reasons to do it, the most evident being surrounded by homophobes. I was not much into the stereo-type boy thing like playing cricket and basketball. My mind used to tickle at the sound of ghungru, or may be poetry would give me freshness. And guess what, I was bullied for it. And adding more to the agony, it was not only the world outside who is calling me names, but my own family used to harass me physically and emotionally. I used to get dejected and rejected by everyone around. At times I would ask myself whether I have a reason to live in this world where I am only greeted with malice. But then to me, leaving the hope is like losing the battle…and I am no looser.

I always used to face questions of not mingling with boys, questions like why I don’t have a girlfriend, as it was so cool and mandatory to have the teenage fling thing. And questions would not stop in those boundaries. It will extend to verbal abuses being hurled with physical torture. These situations were hampering my academics, I was not sure how to overcome it. I tried to concentrate on my studies by isolating myself from the school crowd, but this added to more loneliness. To make things worse my brother and his friends molested me in the name of me being different. My mother and family members threatened me of life if I don’t mend my ways. But what I failed to understand is that ‘what are the WAYS they are asking me to change?’ Any change to the WAYS, changes my whole identity, makes me someone who is not Ayaan, makes me alien to myself.

I stepped into my new institution after I passed my 10th grade. Thought it will bring to me some fresh air of relief, but bad luck did not leave me there too. Some of my school buddies (I prefer to call them otherwise) joined me there, and it was a repetition of history there. My school days of horror was again staged and I withdrew myself into a cocoon. Somehow this time I managed to pull my mind together and concentrate on my studies. And you know with that much of pressure from everybody around you, concentration is the last thing that comes to you. But I did this mammoth task, and somehow succeeded to crack my boards.

College days promised me some change. I still preferred to be in the closet, as I felt it was the safest corner of the world. I made new friends, but the only thing which came as an ongoing question was…”why don’t I have a girlfriend?” Now a question to you all, “Is it mandatory that one should have a girlfriend, keeping at bay the question of my orientation?” “Is it mandatory that all gays should have a boyfriend?” There is so much more to life apart from partners, matrimony, bearing kids. Why everything has to be typically set in the norms of a social institution? Why can’t it be a free flowing ocean? Why can’t it be a will of an individual to lead his/her life the way he/she wants? Food for thought, isn’t it?

I thought having a girlfriend would make life easier, so I opted for a relationship with a college lassie. But her unwanted moves towards getting close to me were hardly responded. I felt awkward, and instead of making things less tensed, it added to my agony. I started diverting my attention to college events and became an active part of it. I left home and started staying with my grandparents as things went beyond my tolerance level in there. But fate had other plans for me. My intruding mom and bothers used to visit me and torture me in my new abode. The fighter in me started to hiss and at more than one time I felt like a rebel. But I had to cut down my inner call because all I wanted to do is to complete my grads peacefully.

Out from colleague I joined a reputed MNC. Life had to be different there. But still I was not confident of whether this is the correct place or people to reveal my true identity. At times I used to doubt myself whether I am gay or not. Probably because of the non-acceptance of the people around me made me doubt my existence. I started revamping my wardrobe. My attitude towards life changed along with my dressing sense.

While I was in college I was introduced to the world of social media and online dating app for gay men. But to my utter bad luck, the only thing which these virtual medium gave me is rejection. Rejection became a shadow to me, an inseparable one. For the first time I felt all my hopes are blown off by the gush of wild wind of people who are like me, and those who aren’t. I questioned my complete existence. I was torn apart thinking that I harbored my hopes on people from my community, who at the end of the day rejects me. Life felt like a huge mound on me.

With days passing by, I started getting messages from the same people who earlier rejected me. They now wanted to be friends with me. I did not know what made this change happen, but change and that too positive is always accepted by me with open arms. I started meeting people from the community. This boosted my confidence that I am not the only one. Listening to their life stories re-kindled my spirit and wish to live, to fight back for who I am. I walked Bangalore Pride and attended the Pride events. This opened to me a galore of people who are out there, who are like me, who fight their own battles, every day, every single moment. Sigh! I was not alone. I accepted myself with peace. The first stepping stone to my identity is self-acceptance (though it came with long time) is done.

Now I am more confident and I wanted to take a step ahead and come out to my colleagues at work place. My heart sank, sweat started rolling down my face, I gasped for breath and life seemed to leave me the day I planned to come out to my office mates. But I had to do this. It’s my life and I will live it the way I want. Accept it or leave it. I came out to my colleagues and they accepted me. I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know how to react and tears rolled down my cheeks. And yes, this time it was tears of joy compared to the unlimited tears of gloom and sadness that I shed earlier. I am a more confident man now. I am Ayaan, who is proud of what he is, who has made a niche for himself with all his effort and will to strive. Now even before my family tries to cross their boundaries of intrusion, I remind them of their mal-deeds that they did to me. I love myself the way I am. I am Ayaan and I am proudly GAY.